Filmmaker Craig Brewer is back in town and happy about it.
Brewer has a couple of weeks downtime before he flies out to Los Angeles to begin post-production on the film, which is tentatively scheduled for a spring 2011 national release.
The 49-day Footloose shot was significantly longer — and more involved — than the shoots for his previous features, Hustle & Flow (23 days) and Black Snake Moan (roughly 30 days).
"It's a big movie," Brewer says. "There's a lot that happens in it. It's the first time I've been in a production of that size. It really is a train that won't stop.
For the first time, Brewer had to turn over some shots to a second unit director, relinquishing some control and presiding over the dailies coming in from the other unit.
"This wasn't like Hustle, where I could be there for every shot," he says of the scope of the job. "The first 40 days of the 50-day shoot, it's like you're climbing, but that last 10 days you feel this momentum and you want it to slow down. And now that I'm down at the bottom of the mountain, there's another mountain for post-production [looming].
Brewer showed a "sizzle reel" of clips from the work-in-progress film at the Indie Memphis premiere of the refurbished version of his first film, The Poor & Hungry. The audience saw country star Julianne Hough looking younger, with dyed apricot-colored hair, as preacher's daughter Ariel, Dennis Quaid as her conflicted father, and newcomer Kenny Wormald in the Kevin Bacon role as city boy Ren. Some iconic images from the original film — such as Ren's yellow Volkswagon — remained, while other original scenes — such as the game of "chicken" played with tractors — seem to have been rethought.
Brewer is pleased with what he's got.
"I think where I got surprised is when I started putting it together, it looked like one of my movies, with the music and religion and the way [Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan cinematographer] Amy Vincent and I framed the South.
While Brewer had fought hard to land the production in Tennessee, he admits that the Atlanta shoot ran smoothly.
"Shooting in Atlanta was pretty incredible," Brewer says with some reluctance. "It was my first time away from shooting in Tennessee. It's a 50-minute plane ride and you have an incredible crew and very supportive state. It was frustrating and great at the same time. Door to door from my home in Memphis to my home in Atlanta was under three hours."
The quick commute — especially compared to Los Angeles — was helpful, but still complicated for Brewer and his wife, who have two young children.
"Initially, Jodi and I were thinking, how are we going to do this as a family? Dad has to be gone for six months to prep and shoot a movie, and then to edit, that's nine, and that's a very tough thing for a guy like me who wants to be around his kids all the time," Brewer says. "But we didn't want a rock-and-roll lifestyle, where we're constantly flying the kids around. We like that we have a grounded home in Memphis."
Having scaled the first part of the Footloose mountain and readying himself for the next, Brewer has been enjoying getting reacquainted with his hometown, spending time with his kids and going on "an eating tour of Memphis" to favorite spots like Café Eclectic, Huey's, the Trolley Stop, and BBQ Shop.
"All I'm doing is eating and playing with my kids," he says.